Y’GOTTA READ BEFORE Y’WRITE, RIGHT?

Blogging Insights NF # 52 — Reading

“The first step in blogging is not writing them
but reading them.” Jeff Jarvis

I agree, although for me, it’s just reading, then reading more. I’ve always been such an insane reader. I may be one of the few kids whose mother had to wrench books from her fists and push her out the door. She believed in reading, but she also believed in air and exercise. Personally, I’d have been happy to live forever wrapped in books.

This cardinal has grown up to be a really interesting adult male with a deep red-orange head and a lighter orange body.

I have always been wrapped in books. I’ve never stopped reading. I didn’t read blogs per se but I read a lot of newsletters and magazines. I also wrote for newspapers. In fact, while I was the editor of a very short-lived English-language newspaper in Israel, we were short of money, so I used different names and wrote news, interviews, astrology, cooking, and occasionally, crossword puzzles. The poorer we got, the more names I collected and the more articles I wrote.

Blogging was to me a lot like writing a letter and I’d done a lot of that while I was overseas. The length was similar and the style was right up my alley. I think if I had to pick the one format I was really good at? Writing letters. So when blogging became a thing, it was duck to water time for me.

The confrontation!

I didn’t read a lot of blogs, but I’d been a writer since I was old enough to clutch a pencil in my hand and a reader as soon as I could figure out which letters were which. My mother said I was three, but I don’t remember. I’ve had the babble of every writer I love banging around in my head for a lifetime. Blogging is just the best way I’ve found to get that stuff out of my head and into a format someone else can read.

Do I read other blogs? Sure I do, but I admit I read things that I find interesting. And what I find interesting is not the same from one day to the next.

Even though there are days when using this format make me froth at the mouth, I’m still grateful I have the opportunity to write. I really don’t know what I’d do with myself if I didn’t write. I need somewhere to post photographs and drawings, too. I decided that writing isn’t a profession. It’s a style of personhood. You don’t “become a writer” by getting a job writing. You start writing. You read and you think, “Hmm. I like that style.”

So then, you write something different, maybe with a hint of that last author echoing in your style.

I don’t know if reading blogs is necessarily the answer, but reading IS the answer. Whatever you read, whether it’s news or recipes or fiction or history or poetry? It doesn’t matter. Just read and then read some more.



Categories: #Birds, #Blogging, #Books, #Photography, #Squirrel, #Writing, Cardinal, reading

Tags: , , , , , ,

25 replies

  1. Absolutely. When I first started I used to read tons of books and I still read, and that’s how I was able to define the metrics in my mind.

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    • What I got from reading other blogs was design. I could see what was wrong with other blogs and it was often the same issues I had when designing books: white space, text large enough to read easily, a good index, and contact information. Early blogs were cluttered. On many blogs, I couldn’t find ANYTHING.

      The writing was what I already did professionally. I needed to tighten it up and keep posts between 400 and 800 words. I sometimes exceed that, but typically I am in that range at the lower end. Design is fun.

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  2. “I don’t know if reading blogs is necessarily the answer, but reading IS the answer. Whatever you read, whether it’s news or recipes or fiction or history or poetry? It doesn’t matter. Just read and then read some more. ”

    I think what you have written here is especially right and specifically this …”I don’t know if reading blogs is necessarily the answer, but reading IS the answer. “

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    • Thank you! I really think it matters less what you read than that you READ. So many people don’t read anymore. Some did but now don’t, some never did. There’s a whole generation — my granddaughter’s age group (born in the 1990s) who moved directly to computers and cell phones and never read anything that wasn’t required for school. They never discovered the joy of reading. I believe they will live to regret it.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I think many will live to regret not understanding the joys of reading. My partner’s grandchildren don’t read from books and have no time for them.

        Years ago and this is a true story, Suze bought some books for those grandchildren and when they received them, they actually swiped them and said they didn’t work. Suze thought they were joking but stopped laughing when they said they thought they were thicker iPads ….

        That tale still baffles me ….

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        • When Owen and I moved to Israel, I knew he had never read a book voluntarily. Schools weren’t requiring much reading by then (even less now), but since he was also learning another language I thought it was important he learn ENGLISH before he lost it while learning Hebrew. So, to get privileges, he had to read one book a week AND write me a book report. Just one page, but if he didn’t do it, he didn’t get to go out and do whatever he and his buddies were doing (mosty going out into the desert and stomping on scorpions, so I was far better off NOT knowing).

          That was JUST before the home computer era. My granddaughter was born when everyone was getting their first home computers. She could navigate a keyboard with a mouse when she was three. I know she CAN read because I taught her myself (school wasn’t working well for her), but I don’t think I’ve ever seen her pick up a book for the pleasure of it.

          The idea of not even knowing what a book IS — that’s mind boggling. First of all, weren’t there any OTHER books in the house? If parents don’t read, you can bet their kids won’t read either. I have seen houses where you never see a book. No overstuffed bookcases or piles of magazines in the bathroom. They are the same people who never hang a picture on the wall and wonder why others think “art” is important. I really have to ask: weren’t there ANY other books in the house? Even cookbooks? Yikes!

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  3. 👏👏👏📷🌹

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  4. You’re a gifted writer Marilyn

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    • Thank you. It was just one of the things I knew I could do from early on. I’ve only really begun to think about it as something special. For most of my life, it was the only skillset I had that could get me a job.

      Liked by 1 person

      • You’re welcome! You’re also a great photographer! 😍

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        • Thank you. Now there was a skillset that couldn’t get me a job. It has always been really hard to earn a living in photography unless you are in the commercial world. The best photography is done by amateurs … but then, you need a day job 😀

          Liked by 1 person

          • Yes, it’s a difficult way to earn money. Unless you become a famous event photographer. Over here the ones who take pictures of a wedding event make lot of money, even those not very well known.

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            • I briefly tried out the wedding/babies/event thing, but I wasn’t good at it. I was looking to make interesting photographs and they just wanted the standard set of photos, just like everyone else got and I wasn’t good at standard anything.

              Liked by 1 person

              • No, you would be looking for interesting angles. But things are different now. They like unusual pics.

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                • Yes but not for weddings, babies, or events. They just want good, flattering pictures they can put in an album and send to friends and family. Unique and arty are what 1% of the population want. Clean and flattering is what the other 99% want.

                  Liked by 1 person

                  • Haha! Yes everyone wants a picture that makes them look good.

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                    • Yes. I got one customer who refused to pay me because, she said, “You made my nose look too big.”

                      I had another one said “You made me look old.” She was 81.

                      I just gave them back their money. Then they said they wanted to keep the pictures anyway. I said “You can’t have it both ways. I return your money and you return the pictures.” They seemed to find that concept confusing. Eventually they paid me and kept the pictures. Her nose WAS big (though I’ve seen worse) and she WAS old (but she still looked younger than her years)(she just wanted to look like 40 rather than 80). I gave up photography and went back to writing about software. I couldn’t deal with clients. They drove me bonkers.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • Very unreasonable people. It seems photography as a profession is not all that it’s touted to be.

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                    • You know, it’s GREAT if you are good enough to work for National Geographic. But most of the magazines and newspapers that published great photographs are gone or are online and only take freelance stuff. It’s very different than it was. AND it was never a very reliable way to earn a living. That’s why all the great photographers had to work jobs and cover events and their greatest work was often hobby photography.

                      I own a few photographs taken by great photographers, but most people don’t feel photography is “real” art. They think that every snapshot they take on their cell phone is a work of art. They wouldn’t know art if it jumped on their back and tried to strangle them.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • Not everyone can take a good photo. You can.

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                    • That may be true, but no one pays me to do it. I just couldn’t do the wedding/baby/event thing and if you don’t do that, it’s very hard to earn a living. Writing pays better.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • That’s true.

                      Liked by 1 person

  5. I used to be a prolific letter writer at one time. In my teens and twenties I had penfriends and I’d easily write five or six page letters and add photos, newspaper clippings or any other interesting odds and ends. I often ended up having to pay more to send them, they were so fat. I think if there were no internet I’d probably go back to letter writing but I do like doing it online where I don’t have to wait three weeks to continue a conversation.

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    • I wrote Garry almost every day while I was away — and most of my other friends several times I week. I admit I typed everything. Once I could touch type, there was no way I was going back to ink except for artistic reasons. In many way, those letter WERE a blog, albeit to very specific people. Garry was great. He always sent me replies via the fastest mail available so it was rarely more than a couple of days between letters. I wish I had not thrown those letters away when we were moving. He had saved every single one of them. I was in “cleaning out the rubbish” mode and sometimes, you need to put a hold on it and recognize that this might be important. But I was doing the whole move myself and all I wanted was as little “stuff” as possible.

      Anyway, when blogging came along, it was such a natural follow-up to letter writing — just to a lot of people rather than one. I just slid right into it, like a letter into the right sized envelope.

      Liked by 1 person

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